Building a Digitally Resilient Workforce:
Creating On-Ramps to Opportunity (2020)

Executive Summary

To unlock opportunity for all Americans and create an equitable recovery, we must support digital skills development for the 32 million adults who cannot use a computer and the half of all Americans who are not comfortable learning online. Our inaugural report highlights the urgency—and imperative—of this work as digital skill divides exacerbate existing inequities. It identifies opportunities to fill some of the most pressing gaps in access to technology, digital skill-building, and support for using technologies to access educational and career opportunities. Together, we can help individuals build the digital resilience needed to thrive not only in today’s world of work—but also tomorrow’s.

Digital inequity exacerbates existing disparities and challenges response, reskilling, and recovery.

With technology transforming our workplaces and daily life, we are at a critical crossroads on our journey to build a resilient workforce and economic mobility for all Americans. Access remains a stubborn barrier to upskilling and reskilling. Twenty million Americans don’t have access to broadband internet, 73 percent of service sector workers lack skills to solve problems in digital environments, and less than 10 percent can access opportunities to improve their digital skills and other foundational skills. As we aim to build back better our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery efforts must prioritize closing persistent digital divides.

As leaders, we must take action immediately to create an equitable ecosystem to support digital skills development and digital learning for all to ensure a fair recovery.

From 2019 to 2020, the Digital US collective impact initiative (formerly the Digital US coalition) conducted a landscape scan of the biggest gaps in access to digital skills development for learner-workers at risk of being left behind in our digital economy. The scan also identified promising efforts to close these gaps that we need to align and support, as well as areas of need for new delivery models and innovation.

Together, Digital US partners are leading efforts to:

Engage diverse stakeholders in advancing digital resilience, spurring investment and partnership from employers and others to drive increased access to technology and connectivity, the development of essential digital skills, and digital equity
Innovate and scale new delivery models to increase access to supports for digital skills development and technology access—including through virtual and drop-in Digital Navigator services and infusing digital skills instruction into the delivery of all education and social services
Serve as a clearinghouse for evaluating and sharing effective practices and models for developing digital resilience, increasing technology access, and making digital learning more equitable; and aligning disparate efforts for greater impact
Educate decision-makers on practices they can implement under existing policies to advance technology and digital skills development, as well as policies that must change in order to develop a more equitable digital future for all of US